A Highway of Hope – God’s vision for his people

Isaiah 35 – Service of Baptism and Confirmation

Sunday 16 December 2012 11.00am

In a sense 34-39 is the sixth Act of the twelve Act/ generation drama that is Isaiah but here there are problems.

 Chapter 34 depicts Edom as ‘the enemy’ at a time when Babylon was the real enemy – but Edom, their nearest neighbour on the far side of the Dead Sea, was always ready to make capital out of Judah’s discomfiture – and so the prophecy is against them.

They too will be subjected to Babylon’s might and they will not rejoice at Judah’s problems for long.

Chapter 35 has created difficulty for the commentators – mainly because at the point of complete disaster there comes this wonderful promise of hope – a road through the desert to bring them back to Zion[1] at the point when they are all about to be taken into captivity. Some think it has been misplaced from the second half of the book – certainly the themes there are similar – but it is not necessarily so.

Throughout the first half of the book every prophecy of disaster has been softened with the promise of God’s love and choice – all the Messianic prophecies apart from the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53 are in the first part of the book. It is entirely consistent that the promise of the ‘Road of Holiness’ is renewed as they refuse to take that road and suffer the consequences by being taken captive in the opposite direction.

This is a call to Holy living that brings the blessing of God and walks us into his presence.

A ‘Road less travelled’[2] perhaps, but the only road worth walking.

 ADDENDUM for Sunday 30 December.

Chapters 36-39 are a copy of 2 Kings 18-20. There are minor differences but the story is the same. They are inserted here to give the historical account of Isaiah’s life and Ministry and are a great tale of his intimacy with the court. They may well be placed here since the events they depict in 701BC ended with the Assyrians struck down with illness fleeing without a battle. This time over 100 years later the Babylonians would not and the people of Judah will be deported.

In January with Chapter 40 we meet the people in exile in Babylon, and the prophet[3] brings a message of comfort and hope.

Happy Christmas and Happy New Year.

[1] Jerusalem

[2] The title of Scott Peck’s superb book.

[3] Second Isaiah as he is often called.